State lawmaker’s push for renter rights during COVID-19

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — President Donald Trump is suspending evictions and foreclosures through April as Americans deal with the impact of COVID-19.

Some Indiana lawmakers are calling on Governor Eric Holcomb to make similar decisions.

They would like him to start by vetoing a tenant-landlord bill.

“I just think it’s crazy out there right now,” said Indiana renter Samantha Bryant.

Bryant is a single mother of four children trying to afford rent in the middle of a pandemic. She says one of the worst parts is not knowing how long it will last.

“What if it is two months, three months, what if this continues and my hours still end up cut?" said Bryant. "Well, I mean, I’m going to try to pay what I can.”

Democratic State Sen. David Niezgodski is calling on the governor to reassure renters like Bryant. He asked Governor Holcomb to start by vetoing SB 148, a bill that would ban local government from dealing with tenant-landlord disputes. The governor says he is reviewing the legislation.

“Locals know what they are doing in this case, and they have a much better handle on the situation,” said Niezgodski.

The senator also wants the governor to advise landlords to temporarily suspend evictions on a state level during this time.

“I don’t think you can virtually guarantee that every single one will, but when you are directing something to take place, most of the time, people listen,” said Niezgodski.

Bryant says she’s looking for any help at all.

“Cut rent in half or just not even make us pay it for that month because it’s not our fault that we can’t work,” said Bryant.

Governor Holcomb hasn’t announced any specific plans for renters. However, in an interview last week, he did say everything is on the table to help Hoosiers come back from this, including tapping into the state’s $2 billion surplus.

“We are in a strong position to weather the storm, but we have got to work together to do just that,” said Holcomb.

Though Bryant is looking for personal relief, she says she’s looking at what she can do for others too.

“I feel like everybody, especially at this time, needs to try to help everybody else,” said Byrant.

We will continue following any measure the governor may take regarding tenants and renters in Indiana.

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